How to Play the Piano uses archival documents and artifacts, alongside several mechanisms of display that function as art object and invitation for participation. As both a creative and educational production, this exhibition examines the history of piano play through its expectations (how to play workbooks, records, and media performances) as well as its disruptions (purposeful disruptions, destructions, and creative approaches to playing).
Topics under consideration include: the ramifications of musical proficiency (politics), the relationship between body and instrument (neurotypicality), the piano reconfigured or reconsidered as non-instrument (destruction and eco-politics), the value of the performed mistake (queering the calculus of success), and playing through doing (joy).
Further objects, gestures, and invitations on view/at hand: toy pianos, piano planters, floor piano mats, boxing pianos, piano neckties, cat keyboards, how to play piano books, how not to play piano images, a “Red Flag Piano”, piano music by: Harpo Marx, Cecil Taylor, Philip Corner, Rafael Ortiz, Annea Lockwood, Sonic Youth, Bugs Bunny, and a takeaway book and essay by the author in an edition of 50.
And lastly, but not leastly: a live opening night performance made through reimagining musical instructional manuals as movement scores by Camille Casemier and Amanda Maraist.
Chris Reeves is a Chicago creative researcher, educator, artist, and received his PhD in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests include artists books, Fluxus, performance art, dance, utopias, punk and DIY, the politics of haptic relations, and localized collaboration. His work has been published in various forms and shapes – as a vinyl LP, a large cardboard mountain, a didactic wall text, academic journals, and a whoopee cushion – as a mans to consider the dialogical between text, content, and material. His work has been featured all over the United States and in a few parts of Europe. He ran (with Curtis Miller) FLATLAND, an artists event space, in McKinley Park where he co-authored and edited The Hole Black Hole Catalog (2019), The Old Future’s Almanac (2021), and An Atlas (2022) . In 2020 he edited (with Aaron Walker) The World’s Worst: A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia released on Soberscove Press. He is currently working on his second book, Playing Music Badly in Public: Brian Eno and the Limits of the Non-Musician.